It's Different for Girls

    Virginia Lovelock, seventeen, skin like chipotle mayo, stringy dyed-black hair down to the small of her back, and bulimia-sculpted body draped in work-regulation but flattering white t-shirt and black pants, has yet to get off. She has five minutes left on her shift, and she stares in between the two teevees nearest her. On the left side is a Discovery Channel show about elephants, how they become enraged and kill their owners when inadequately housed in circuses, private zoos, even some fucker’s yard. On the right is a show where Yakov Smirnov picks a wife out of some thirty or so women living in a mansion with him. What a country! Catfights, &c.

    “Hey girly girl.” Tom, Virginia’s supervisor, hands her a drink he has just made from probably raspberry vodka and mucilaginous watermelon flavoring. “Clock out.” Tom is twenty-six, married with a little son to his high school sweetheart. He has a goatee, brown hair slicked back, a slight beer belly and a wide tie with animals on it. Virginia says, “fuck yeah!” and skips a little on her way back to the back room where she changes into a Little Mermaid [1989] tee, pre-faded, and a denim skirt.

    Just outside the back room, a turkey they could not use for sandwiches seems to peer in with its one gaping orifice, drumsticks bound and splayed, skin burnt. Virginia hates it. Tom is giving out orders to his subordinates in the other room: “So, y’know, just get behind here, see, where it’s really dusty, y’know, just make sure to keep everything, like over here, everything really clean, see there’s a smudge, where’d that come from…”

    She goes and takes a drink from the drink she’s been made. The watermelon flavor for mixing is so thick that it does not, by any means, make the drink go down any easier, and she hates that she chokes a little. It tastes like cum and fruit snacks, for Chrissakes.

    “I saw a lion today.”

    “No…”

    “I really did! I saw a real guy dressed as a lion!

    “Ha! ha! ha!”

    “Right here in Billy-Crystal I saw this!”

    Those still on the clock are shuffling tables around for the place’s nocturnal transmogrification from restaurant with drinks to pseudo-nightclub. Tom makes Virginia another drink, pouring in a comical amount of Aristocrat to her feined glee.

    Virginia recounts an altercation she’d had today with the new girl, Jessica, who it seems had been careless with regards to a certain regulation about the cooking of hot dogs. “I’m sorry I give a fuck about the rules,” Virginia says. “Some of us have to pay rent.” Tom goes on to tell Virginia the plot and certain especially funny jokes from Step Brothers [2008], because Virginia hasn’t seen it yet.

    “When my stepdad moved in,” Virginia interjects, “we lived in, uh, one of those townhouses, down on Elden? Like—Elden Court Apartments or whatever?”

    “No shit, I used to play baseball around there as a kid. Optometrists.”

    “For real?”

    “I was MVP in my league! Got the trophy at home.”

    “Yeah, and there was a creek there, but my faggot stepdad wouldn’t let me play in it. So it was all concrete around me, and dust mites. In third grade.”

    A rotating spheroid light, suspended from the ceiling, is thrown on and begins to irradiate erratically—stop light red, Japanese beetle green, discount blue—various tables, patches of floor tile, a window which just flashes back, Yakov’s next amorous decision, a real live DJ who has just finished setting up in one corner, shades on in the dark, shaved head… it is ‘90s night. Office workers from downtown pour in, barely forming lines, standing off parallel to one another, a hint of savagery in their lack of acknowledgment or communication, scowls, lanyards, cargo shorts, handheld computers, blueteeth, prepared for anything but being asked what they’d like to drink. “Ahhh, lemme get… ”

    Virginia dances up against Tom, countenance sultry, maw gaping like a carp, eyes closed. It occurs to Tom that he feels, underneath everything else, the positive energy/synergy of the lights and the people, the on-point visceral excitement of Virginia’s rotating axis of nubile sexuality against the pulsing front of his pinstriped pants, yet another level of alienation, worse than what he felt in his business classes at community college, all his high school friends away at real school now, or what he feels trying to joke with an unfunny customer, y’know really trying to build that rapport (nacho cheese, not yo’ cheese, come on, man…), this feeling brought on by his own compulsion to pursue such a small, essentially antisocial victory with such a high risk factor, to just go ahead and do the whole dancing-suggestively-thing with jailbait in front of his subordinates, and then really just get his A-game goin’ and maybe, what? What’s your primary objective, Tom? Head in the car? Back to her place? Tom knows the type he’s dealing with, she’d demand he stay the night. He would go home to his wife and his son smelling like Dream Angels Desire and have no explanation.

    Now Virginia can no longer fight the creeping feeling of nausea which tingles across her whole body like slick antennae and makes her gut feel so impossibly heavy. She makes a theatrical turn towards the bathroom and lurches, too concerned with the gravity of the situation even to be self-conscious. She darts and shifts, graceless, behind and around shiny shirts, glasses of wine, other people’s arms flailing in conversation, watches glittering, for what is maybe several minutes.

    She turns another corner and bangs her whole body against the lady’s room door. White light encompasses her now. She kneels slowly in front of the toilet, knees and elbows shaking, and instantly a putrid spray of red and clear, some Subway in there, too, from break, chewed but not digested, soggy lettuce flattened, shoots out of her mouth as if from an infernal fire hydrant. She coughs harshly, crying now, lips magenta and quivering, one eye closed, folded and stained Ariel smirking seductively up at her. A line of drool has shot, with the puke, across to the toilet seat and remains hanging suspended between it and her mouth. She touches the undulating spitline and it stays on her finger, following it and stretching gently across and above the bowl. She loses patience, shakes her hand wildly, flinging the saliva into individual drops that spatter across her face, hands, the toilet bowl, the floor.

    A memory, in some intermediate fog between Virginia’s cobwebbed subconscious and the present, exists of her older brother putting forth this theory of his that women who have never been molested might still go out and demean themselves in search of approval from men, not because of daddy issues or anything like that necessarily, but because they are incrementally molested by society, every day, man—a piece of halfhearted armchair feminism from a guy who sometimes refers to attractive women as “talent” in front of his friends or even his girlfriend, which girlfriend pretends to act like it’s funny or whatever—a guy who likes the porn, Virginia has discovered by accident, where they kick the girls off the bus afterwards—in short, someone who contributes to this tiny but consistent collective violation, even against his own sister… this memory of course, is far back and inconsequential enough to the moment at hand that it even comingles with a time Virginia, age six, got into a screaming fight with her mother at the mall and her mother, in retrospect, was absolutely right, Virginia was just being a little shit, the difference between Meiosis I and Meiosis II, some of the rules here at work, a shirt she’d like to own, the song she had stuck in her head this morning, which song slowly drifts away now as Virginia moves in and out of horrible, horrible consciousness, her head swaying up and down just above the viscous porcelain, and she can hear a different song now, the one the DJ is playing, soon to be sung by everyone at the restaurant, some already picking it up—

We’ll be singin’
When we’re winnin’
We’ll be singin’:

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